By Judy Chang, Jake Agliata & Mauro Guarinieri in the International Journal of Drug Policy
The COVID-19 crisis has magnified existing social, economic and political inequities. People who use drugs are particularly vulnerable due to criminalisation and stigma and often experience underlying health conditions, higher rates of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, as well as a lack of access to vital resources – putting them at greater risk of infection. On the other hand, COVID-19 presents an opportunity to confront the mistakes of the past and re-negotiate a new social contract. The International Network of People who use Drugs (INPUD) believe that this crisis must be an occasion to rethink the function of punishment, to reform the system and to work towards ending the war on drugs. This commentary presents a set of recommendations to UN agencies, governments, donor agencies, academics and researchers and civil society, challenging these actors to work alongside people who use drugs to enact a new reality based on solidarity and cooperation, protection of health and restoration of rights and dignity and most importantly to mobilise to win the peace.